Grafitti Royale & F# & More

Well, last week, return to the cold weather, recovering from the cold and a sore back for the first part of the week and finally getting to a warmer day today, and wanting to get back “in the swing” as it were, I asked my roomies if they wanted to play a game or two.

We played Flag Dash, designed by one of Madison’s native talents.  It was a decent game once we got the general rules down, though I think having to wait to play does change the board a bit so it’s hard to have a perfect plan in motion.  Though I won, so I’m not complaining 😉

One issue I had is the general wordiness of the rule book (I should talk, right?) I’d kinda skim-read it a couple times, sat down and read most of it the other and my roomie read as we went along and I guided questions about specifics I remembered.  There were still details we weren’t sure of, but for the most part it worked.

I agree with my roomie that instead of player colors the team colors should have been used.  I suppose a “hat” could have been placed on for the colors of the players.

Anyways, then we played 7 Wonders and I lost as expected.  It’s been ages, but was fun to dig it out again.  I forgot how much I love it.

Then I wanted to show off the basic concept of Graffiti Royale to them, so I dug out the board, the small tiles I cut out (finally the right size!) Only one set, but it was just to give a basic idea of what I was thinking.  Showed them how the artist/worker placement would work, the basic “market” the layout of the tiles, the scoring concept, the penalties for getting “busted” and the Infamy for the one who was most busted showing that conflict and drive to punish your enemy, but not so much as to drive them to receiving benefits.

I actually had a good feel for it, and feel a lot more inspired on this than Quartiles, which I feel guilty about not doing more on.  So I should really get my ass to focus on that again.  It’s really just needing to get a few more powers that are simple to use but unique, and I’m struggling to find some ideas. Probably need to brainstorm.

The last bit is F#.  I’ve not programmed in a while and I’m curious about trying a functional language.  I’ve done very minimal “Hello World” type stuff in the Racket interpreter, for example.  Or Haskell.  And since I have used C# and know a very little of some of the concept of the CLI (Common Language Infrastructure – not the Command Line Interface), that it might be fun to try F#.

Further since F# seems somewhat lightweight/scripty, I though it’d be nice to use it with a code editor instead of Visual Studio.  There’s a plugin for Atom/VSCode called Ionide, so I tried to install that and after struggling to get it working, found a page on MS’s site that explained the setup better.  Ionide’s instructions already assume you know how to setup F# projects and such.

So, as with any language I’ve used apart from Basic, Turbo-Pascal and Logo, dealing with tooling setup and understanding that is the most pain in the ass of all of it.

Unlike Python and Java, dealing w/path variables was fairly painless (though part of that is how Win10 does the path now, with a nice UI that splits the paths into a list, instead of the string of ‘;’ delimited paths).

But what threw me for a loop was the Project Setup.  I couldn’t just say open an F# file and try to compile it (in Code) or run it in an interpreter, it kept giving me errors about something not being found, so I installed/uninstalled packages (Paket & Fake), nothing.  Finally I hit that MS website post with the instructions and setup a full project and BAM!  It compiled.

I know the FSI can run a script, so I should probably just invoke it that way if I want fast scripting/testing.  But goddamned, I really was hoping VS Code/ionide could give that experience without having to build a whole project infrastructure.

Quartiles, Graffiti Royale & Andromeda’s Got Mutant

Hi neglected page.  Ever since I got my job in March I haven’t had much time to update you, as I’ve been busy hooking people up with Triple Plays and 300/300 mbps intertubez.

Anyways, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on projects, I most assuredly have.  Not as frequently as I used to, but slow and steady progress.

My current main focus is a game I’m calling Quartiles.  It’s a board game using a tile placement and set collecting mechanic. After a quick prototype play session I felt good enough that I worked more and sent a pre-alpha prototype to The Game Crafter.  Further testing let me arrive at a theme:  School.  Chalkboard, papers, grades… The name Quartiles lends itself to that.  Here’s a couple pics of the prototype:

I used Nandeck to create them – first time using Nandeck.  A little funky to use, especially w/more advanced scripting, I just had a basic script for these first two pics.  Using that theme concept, I redid the art for the tiles, using a “chalk” art design and a blackboard style background.  The cards will eventually look like notebook paper, and the top portion will look like hand writing for the set (2 2 2 2 in the picture below) and the “grade” (50) will be in red to look like a graded piece of homework.  The bottom half represents powers and abilities you can spend your “extra credit” points on.  I have a lot of playtesting and revamping to do on this.  But even on the first playtest I felt pleased enough at how it turned out that I think has a lot of potential for a simple set collecting game.

I already have an “expansion” planned (probably will just be more cards with the base game) but it would be called Advanced Placement.  And the idea for that would be that you’ll have to fill in the blanks of equations using the numbers you collect.  So instead of just a set, you’ll have to MATH in order to get points.  I might even have “levels” for the Advanced Placement so you could have simple add/subtract for younger kids, but then mult/divide for older kids and maybe some really out there stuff to allow for people to make their own equations:
Tier 1: _ + _ = 4
Tier 2: _ * _ = 6

Tier 3: _ + _ – _ = _

Where you could create your own combinations/sets in tier three.
I’m thinking you could really do super easy “preschool” type games where kids just try to collect a set of numbers and for every set they get a card, and whoever gets the most cards wins or something.  So they don’t have to deal with a number like 50 or dealing with more complex things.

I’m also working on the Graffiti game (previously called “Paint the Town” I’m now thinking of calling it Graffiti Royale (to play with the theme of players competing to become the royalty (kings/queens, etc…) of a city (King/Queen being a term of art in the graffiti world.).

And my 3rd idea that I’m excited about is a game based upon creating mutants.  A sort of talent/dog show, and I call it “Andromeda’s Got Mutant”.

Finally –  here’s the script I used to make the blackboard style square in Nandeck:



Five Year Plan: A Collectivist Deck Building Game – Co-opetitive Design Conundrums

A while back I had an idea for a deck building game that’s co-opetitive in nature.  The initial idea was a shared deck for all players, with a “communist” theme of shared resources, and goals for a five year plan.  The goals would be based upon players roles as commissars (Commie-Tsars ;)) and each player would be required to produce a certain amoung of a given type of good.  If all succeeded, then the game would continue til the end.

The cooperative aspect would be based on that need for everyone to succeed.  If anyone failed, then the game was over.  I’m not sure if I like that aspect.  I definitely don’t want a player-elimination scheme..  Perhaps a player would lose points/reward for not succeeding.

Anyways, the rewards would be for players who went above and beyond their production.  There would be tiers of success so if you were able to go beyond the minimum, you would get greater glory/recognition.  The Commissar of the Five Year Award (a la Worker of the Year).

I have a lot of concepts mulling around based upon a 4 fold division of labor (Agriculture, Industrial, Military, Intellectual/Arts).  I also have a vision of leveling up “workers” from one to another kind based upon an educational process/schooling (by paying “intellectual” cards to “teach” them).

There are stacks like the kind you can purchase cards from, like in other deck builders.   You can obtain some of these stacks of cards by conquering them by paying military cost to acquire it and bring it into your commie empire.  Each stack would represent a region of the country won over by your revolution.

Another way to obtain certain stacks would be investing (via intellectual resources) in a Tech Tree which would unlock more stacks of higher level tech.

But all these things can be done via a competitive type game.  There’s no sharing of resources much in what I just mentioned, and my biggest concern is contemplating just what it means to have shared resources in a game like this.

There are two ways I can currently see to implement this:

  1.  A shared deck.  The issue here is that if everyone shares a single deck, all players choices become diluted in the larger scheme, and it makes it harder to really build what you want.
  2. A shared hand.  I like this concept in theory.  The idea here is that you have 2-5 players.  During a round, each player has a personal hand of cards, and they place a number of cards (depending on number of players) face up in front of them, and reinforces the by adding cards as necessary to make a 5-card hand.


5 Players = 1 card per player played face up.

4 Players = 1 card per player played face up.  Draw 1 card off the top of the communal deck.

3 Players = 1 card per player played face up.  Draw 2 cards off the top of the communal deck

2 Players = 2 cards per player played face up.  Draw 1 card off the top of the communal deck.

The shared hand scheme here utilizes the concept of a shared deck to reinforce a player’s hand.  I suppose it could be reinforced from a given players hand, based upon who the “current” player is.  That gives a slight advantage to the player whose turn it is (assuming <5 players, natch) and gives a feeling of control.

In terms of resources, one of the things I’m thinking of is a personal “deck” of resources separate from the collective.  Part of that is a player being able to requisition a card from their hand to their personal deck.  It is this personal deck that a player “scores” when it comes time to determine the year’s end success or failure.

The reason I like this aspect is that it allows for a way to manage the collective deck and not be at the whims of other players, while building ones personal resources to be used (I’m not sure, how, exactly this personal deck would be used, except, perhaps as a way to “buff” your hand by adding cards to choose from if you don’t like your current hand, perhaps.)  The interesting aspect comes in the competition for taking a resource as a personal  thing, while denying other players access to this.  The idea there then is that while it benefits you in one way, it might hurt you, by denying resources other players are needing in order to purchase cards from the stacks, perhaps.  That might be good to hinder your opponents because your goal is to exceed your quota while minimizing theirs.  But you don’t want to minimize their production too much, lest you all fail.  Further, if you minimize their production, you’re also minimizing your production, because at some point you might need a resource they are creating for their goal.  A “tragedy of the commons” sort of effect if everyone goes stealing cards for their personal stash.

So I have some ideas that I think might be interesting, but I feel like they are lacking… something.  I’m worried that this balance between personal/collective is going to be hard to pull off.
I plan on having some effect cards like “purge” to allow players to consciously trim the deck or something like “famine” that would be a more random deck trimming effect.

Perhaps instead of a collective deck, or even a collective hand, there is a collective pool that players can play their cards towards to succeed.  So basically it would all be individual decks like Dominion, but to succeed at the goals of your role, you have to give up/contribute some of these resources to the Central Committee in the center of the table.  The question there, of course, is how that would play out.  Are these resources unavailable?  Would they have a reduced effect (that is, say, they’re only 50% value of their stated value when used from the center vs personal pile)…  I dunno.

So this is my biggest vexation, right now.